Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring is Bird Watching Season!

Spring is here and it's time to get out and go for a hike! While you're hiking, you can do a unit on birds for science. Here are some resources to help:

Job Fair Idea from Kelly Allen

When I was homeschooling in the 80's, we lived for a short time next door (actually we lived in their yard in a mobile home!) to a wonderful family, Roger and Jean Rockey in Virginia Beach. A death in the family was the cause of these strange living conditions and the Rockey's were gracious enough to allow us to invade their turf while my husband finished his master's degree at Regent University.

Anyway, one of the Rockey children, Kelly, who is now Kelly Allen, was a good friend of my daughter, Shelly. We took her and her brother John (who was friends with my son, Wil) with us whenever we went on homeschool adventures. We all have wonderful memories of hiking and exploring Sandbridge - one of our frequent hangouts. 

Kelly is now homeschooling her own children! (How time flies!). She recently wrote me about a job fair that she did with her children. It was such a good idea, I am posting it here:
"At the end of this past school year, I made our own "job fair" for my younger kids. I made big poster board displays for four different job fields (I chose Marine Biology, Teaching, Missions and Engineering) with lots of pictures of things that you might experience in those fields. Then I wrote up a "check list" of activities for the week. The kids had to pick which job they wanted to experience and then complete the list of activities to "experience" that job.

"We talked about skills that were needed, how their education helps prepare them for the job they would like, and what kind of "adventures" you might face in each job field. I displayed objects for them to touch and play with that represented each field (like a hard hat, graph paper, tools and a briefcase for engineering; objects from foreign countries, a back pack and bible for missions; etc, etc,). My goal was to keep it fun and interesting but to help them see how the work that they do (mastering those subjects that might be challenging for them) now will help them prepare for the life they would like to have when they are older.

"The kids really loved it. My plan is to make the Job Fair an annual celebration to close out the school year. I am hoping that by the time they get to 7th grade they will be able to remember all the jobs we learned about and will have already thought through the kind of work they would like to do."
If you're looking for more ideas for career training, be sure to check out my Web site at: Career Exploration and Training Resources.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I am Learning All the Time by Rain Perry Fordyce.

Are you looking for a book to give to your child or your friends and relatives to explain what homeschooling is all about in a fun, interesting and simple way? Well, look no further!

Rain has written an adorable picture book for children called “I am Learning All the Time.” The main character is five-year-old Hugh, who is homeschooled. The 38-page, beautifully illustrated picture book follows Hugh in his daily life as he interacts with family and friends, both traditionally schooled and homeschooled. We see him learning both at home and away as well as playing with both his schooled and homeschooled friends.

Your own homeschooled children will recognize themselves as they watch Hugh learn about bugs, dinosaurs, money and space shuttles as he goes about his daily life at home and away.
But more importantly, this is an effective tool to share with your friends and relatives who wonder what you do all day as a homeschooling family. They will understand what it means to “learn all the time,” and begin to see homeschooling in a more positive light. They may even wish their own children were homeschooling!

For those who would like to know, there is a very brief mention of wizards and a tyrannosaurus rex who “survived over seventy million years.” Rain follows the Unschooling style of learning.

This is not a peak into the “school-at-home” variety of homeschooling. This is what I call a real education – the kind that Thomas Edison had as a kid. This is about learning all the time and wherever you go. This is about reading together, building things together, learning at the grocery store, and exploring the world around you. You can do this whether you add in some structured book learning or not.

I heartily recommend this as a tool to help your child understand how homeschooling fits in with “real life,” and to show non-homeschoolers what really goes on in many homeschooling family’s lives.

For more information or to order, go to the Homeschool Adventure Books Web site. You’ll even find free coloring pages to go along with the book!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Why Do I Need to Know Math?

Have your children ever asked that question? Well, here's a resource that will help you answer that question: Hands-On Math Projects With Real-Life Applications by Judith A. Muschla and Gary Robert Muschla.

Hands-On Math Projects includes 60 lesson plans that reinforce math concepts and make learning math interesting and fun. Most important, it gives students a reason for learning math! 

The lessons easily integrate into other class work including science, social studies, language arts, music, art, sports, recreation, and life skills. It’s perfect for those who enjoy doing unit studies! 

It was written for students in grades 6-12; however, it can be adapted to younger grades depending on interests and abilities. 

How I would use Hands-On Math Projects in a home school setting:

Home school parents can skim through most of the introductory materials that addresses classroom strategies. However, be sure to read over pages 24-42, which includes directions for writing in the math class, an outline of the basic writing process, ideas for using the Internet in math class, and assessment guidelines and forms.

Although each lesson discusses group activities and oral presentations, it’s very easy to adapt these lessons to a home school setting. The projects can easily be done individually and written reports are sufficient. If you choose to have your child do an oral presentation, he or she can perform for family members and friends or in a support group or co-op setting.

I would recommend using the lessons in this book, as needed, as part of a unit study; on a once-a-month or once-a-week basis instead of a regular math and composition class; or as needed to work on a particular math concept.

Some of the lesson plans included are:
  • Math and Science: What is the Weather?, Designing a Flower Bed
  • Math and Social Studies: A Great Mathematician, Creating a Scale Map
  • Math and Language: Fictional Numbers-Writing a Story, Rating Math Web Sites
  • Math and Art: I Wanna Be Like Escher, Designing a Quilt Pattern
  • Math and Music: Numbers and Songs, The Math in Music
  • Math and Sports: Choosing a Membership Plan at a Health Club, Comparing Sports Superstar
  • Math and Recreation: Going on Vacation
  • Math and Life Skills: Making a Budget, Buying a Car, The Costs of Pets
Sample lesson: The Geometry and Art of Architecture. Students are directed to do research at the library and online to find examples of interesting architecture. A suggested list of buildings is included or you might select a structure that is related to a topic you are studying, such as a castle for medieval history or the Eiffel Tower for the country of France. Students are to examine their structures for examples of geometry such as angles, polygons, three-dimensional shapes, symmetry, and parallel or perpendicular lines. They are to draw the structure on poster paper and then label the geometric forms. Finally, they are instructed to write a report about the selected structure, which includes background information on the building as well as a summary of the geometry it represents.

Sample lesson: The Benefits of Recycling. In this lesson, students are instructed to research the benefits recycling offers to people, companies and the environment. After they gather the information, they must analyze it and draw conclusions about the benefits of recycling based on facts. They are to explain their conclusions in a written summary and illustrate with graphs, charts, tables or posters. They must also include a list of resources used in bibliographical format. After the lesson, a visit to a recycling center is suggested. It would also be a good time to start your own recycling projects, such as recycling glass or paper.

Hands-On Math Projects is well worth the investment in time and money. It will stimulate your child’s interest in math, as well as reinforce logic and writing skills. I heartily recommend this book!

For more reviews of homeschool curriculum, see Homeschool Curriculum Reviews.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Wonders of God's World: Dinosaur Activity Book

The Wonders of God's World Dinosaur Activity Book by Earl & Bonita Snellenberger is the perfect resource for teaching your elementary-age children about dinosaurs. If it is used during family reading times, it would interest almost everyone in the family.

The book is a Bible-based textbook and activity book all-on-one. I found the text extremely interesting and discovered many things I didn't know about dinosaurs and fossils. The text explains what a dinosaur is, how fossils were formed, and how paleontologists reconstruct dinosaurs from fossil fragments. It explains how scientist can misinterpret fossil evidence and provides examples of specific instances where mistakes were made. It also discusses dinosaurs in history, both actual and mythical.

Activities in the book include mazes, puzzles, dot-to-dots, crossword puzzles, tangrams, and coloring pages. Some activities involve making a finger puppet or putting together paper models. Children who like to cut, color and paste and make their own booklets will love these activities.

My only objection to the book is that the author does not allow teachers and parents to make copies of the worksheet pages for their students and/or children. You would have to purchase a separate workbook for each child. This will only discourage honest teachers and parents on a budget from purchasing the book for classroom use. If you fit this case, I recommend writing to the publisher and asking permission. Perhaps they will give it!